Business & Finance

In the latest and largest in a series of biotech mergers, Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. agreed to acquire Biogen in an all-stock deal valued at $6.4 billion. Pending approval by shareholders and regulators, the resulting new company will be the third largest in the industry. It's to be known as Biogen Idec Inc. and have its headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. Idec currently is based in San Diego.

Troubled Tenet Healthcare Corp. took another heavy hit Monday when the hospital chain warned that second-quarter earnings would be "significantly below" analyst expectations, sending its stock down 26 percent to close at $12.01 on the New York Exchange. Tenet, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., is the target of a federal lawsuit and investigations into its Medicare billing practices.

Shareholders in the troubled engineering group Alstom SA will be asked to vote on whether the company's assets should be liquidated, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said shareholder equity was down to $402 million as of the end of March, compared to $8.3 billion at the same point in 2002, because of a huge accounting charge to write down the value of subsidiaries. The company is one of France's proudest, having built the famous high-speed TGV trains. But a decline in the shipping and energy sectors has hurt sales of the cargo vessels and power-generating systems it also builds, and in late April it sold off its industrial turbines division to Siemens AG of Germany. At that time, Alstom's debt was listed at $5.5 billion. The Journal said the wording of the resolution to be put to shareholders at the company's annual meeting Wednesday asks them to reject liquidation.

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